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Missing Tyrone teenager Arlene Arkinson was killed by convicted child killer, coroner finds

Arlene Arkinson was 15 years old when she disappeared in August 1994 following a night out.

Arlene Arkinson
Arlene Arkinson
Image: PA Images

A CORONER HAS found that missing teenager Arlene Arkinson was murdered by convicted child killer Robert Howard in 1994 on the balance of probability.  

Coroner Brian Sherrard delivered his findings at Omagh Courthouse today following a long-running inquest into the teenager’s death.

He found that she died on the morning of 14 August 1994.

“There is no record of her being alive after that date,” he said.

“Robert Howard – a violent sexual offender and the last person to be seen with Arlene, in the early hours of August 14 1994 – was responsible for her death.”

Arkinson (15) from Castlederg in Co Tyrone disappeared in August 1994 following a night out at a disco in Bundoran, Co Donegal.

She was last seen in a car driven by Howard, a convicted child killer and rapist who died in prison in England in 2015 aged 71.

Howard was charged with murdering the 15-year-old, but acquitted in 2005.

2.25758242 Convicted child killer Robert Howard. Source: PA Images

The jury was not told the predator, originally from Co Laois, had a history of sexual violence.

By the time of his trial he was already serving a life term for killing and raping London teenager Hannah Williams.

An inquest into Arlene’s death finished hearing evidence in 2019, after more than a decade of stop-start hearings.

Despite extensive searches, Arlene’s remains have never been found.

A grave in Co Sligo was exhumed by gardai in March 2018 but was found to contain the remains of an adult male.

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Arlene’s family have repeatedly said that they will never give up hope of recovering her body.

Speaking in 2019, Arlene’s sister Kathleen said: “She was 15 when she went missing

“It was us that suffered, dragged through the mud, what the police gave us was unbelievable but we are still standing here and I will be here until Arlene is found.

“I will never give up looking for Arlene and I would like to thank the public for their prayers, and keep Arlene in their prayers.”

The inquest first opened in November 2007 but has faced several delays over the years due to a number of factors including legal challenges, resource issues and difficulties obtaining documents from Gardaí.

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